“I’ll take it”
The first three words to escape my lips as I take the first left turn out of the dealership showroom and shift into second.. this of course, after trying my best to play coy, keep the ecstatic grin off my face and stop howling in laughter behind the wheel of the Molten Orange rocket. The 2013 Ford Fiesta ST (colloquially named, the “FiST”), is the motoring form of fantastic, utterly satisfying sex. So addictive as such, that I put my own $30,000 into marrying the FiST. This turned out to be a very short and expensive marriage, but more on that later.
The Ford Fiesta is a major success story in Ford Motor Companies ONE Ford plan. A business model heavily influenced by globalisation and the enormous economic advantages of producing a “one size fits all” model to be sold across the entire world. It is commonly renowned as the dynamic star of the compact/supermini class and the current Fiesta has always been a hit with a vast range of new car buyers. Now in it’s third iteration (WS, WT and now WZ), the Fiesta has had ample opportunity to diversify its talents and become a wonderfully inexpensive, well-equipped and dynamically strong front runner in the compact class.
Ignore the naturally aspirated 1.5L petrol engines; EcoBoost is a term that you will learn to love, very quickly. Sure, you can opt for the charming 1.0L 92kw three-cylinder turbo unit under the bonnet of the Fiesta Sport, however one taste of the FiST and well.. to quote an old fable, ‘there ain’t no replacement for displacement’.
The 1.6LGTDi motor powering the Fiesta ST is an engine indispensably crafted by people that were born to make the world a happier place. Throwing out 134kw and 240nm (147kw, 290nm on 20-second overboost) in an incredibly linear, train hauling fashion – the FiST will have you hooked on the first flex of your right foot.
From launch, 100km/h passes by in a respectable 6.9 seconds. It provides a lustful rush of induction noise and overdramatic exhaust note from the artificial sound symposer, filling the cabin with a symphony of tiddler-engine goodness. In terms of smiles per dollar, the Fiesta ST is the best bang for your buck on the market today. It is also immensely economical; big engine performance for a claimed 6.2L/100km, albeit running on 98 RON fuel. Throughout 6,000kms of ownership, I averaged a wallet friendly 7.68L/100km. To be more specific, an average range of 632km out of the 48L fuel tank.
Every corner is absolute bliss. The intimate connection of an almost-perfect gearshift (second-third spacing is very wide, exposing a torque hole if you’re not hard on the gas, especially in roundabouts) and the willing EcoBoost motor is a relationship which may (read – will) destroy your license. The electric-steering is perfectly weighted and provides informed feedback; the over intelligent torque-vectoring control keeps the ergonomically perfect leather-bound, ST encrypted steering wheel in firm grasp.
The unique selling point of this vehicle can’t be printed on a brochure, or even explained in a review. It really is a vehicle that must be driven to be believed. However, needless to say that sparse is one adjective that did not escape my vocal chords in between giggles and grins. The Fiesta ST has an extensive regiment of features that is missing only two personally preferred goodies (satellite navigation and a sunroof) out of an otherwise impressive list. Some notable features include:
- Keyless entry and push-start
- auto-open/close both windows
- dusk sensing headlamps with LED daytime running lights
- rain sensing wipers
- one-touch indicators
- ‘000’ emergency assist (it’ll help you in a serious accident)
- reverse parking sensors
- hill-hold assist
- Sony SYNC multimedia system with 8 speakers, bluetooth streaming & USB connectivity
- auto-dimming rear view mirror
- 5 star ANCAP – 7 airbags (including knee), ABS, EBD, ESC
None of these features are essential in the chemical balance of a quintessential hot hatch, but they make for both a great selling proposition amongst the class leaders and ease some of the other compromises of owning such an athletic vehicle. I was slightly disappointed with the lack of “global opening/closing” which is common in many European sourced cars; even the Thai built Ford Focus has it, but this is being greedy in the mid twenties price range.
When it goes a little sour…kraut
The biggest trade-off with a vehicle with such athletic prowess, is a bone rattling ride. This topic is of huge debate in the motoring community. “Surely you knew the ride would be ‘hard’ after the first test drive?”… “Its something you MUST accept with a hot hatch”… With this predisposition, I began to ask myself why we should accept this compromise. Sure, it’s an inexpensive hot hatch with Porsche like performance, but surely even Porsche owners like their teeth in one piece. This is one of several reasons why the FiST affair was short-lived. Sydney CBD must surely possess some of the most pathetically maintained roads of all the OECD nations. Combine this with the firm suspension, the (attractive) 17 inch alloys on Bridgestone Potenzas and there's a fragile relationship that I simply could not forgive.
Another major selling-point of the Fiesta ST over it’s lesser brethren, is the “manufactured in Germany” badge. With this, I was anticipating tight panel gaps, a well-screwed together interior and a higher level of refinement than the Thai subordinates and the Spanish built Polo GTI. Several rattles developed almost immediately in the drivers side door; and the Sony sound system is probably the most disappointing sound system of any new car i’ve ever experienced with such poor clarity and the impossible ability to find a perfect aural balance with the system settings.
So it was a relatively painless “auf wierdersehen”
I do miss the metallic fantasy that is the EcoBoost engine. The rush of the over-endowed induction noise and the traffic gap pinching wave of torque is something that is inherently rare in any other vehicle at this price point.If you live amongst beautiful, flowing mountains filled with smooth, world-class roads, then by all means this IS the car for you. But for this driver, the wants of the heart simply could not outweigh the lack of mental justification of owning a vehicle not fit for my drive-scape.